Despite the huge challenges ahead, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, agreed on Monday that the government will remain focused on completing the current round of negotiations with the troika and securing an agreement for a “post-memorandum” era next year.
Speaking to reporters after talks with Samaras, Venizelos said he believed troika mission chiefs would return to Athens soon enough to resume their latest review in time for the next summit of eurozone finance ministers on December 8 where the question of Greece’s relationship with its creditors, and the possible creation of a precautionary credit line next year, is to be addressed.
European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici had indicated at last week’s Eurogroup summit that troika inspectors would return to Athens by the end of this week. But the auditors themselves have yet to confirm a date, noting that a series of pending measures -- ranging from pension overhaul to labor market reforms -- must be implemented first.
As for the hoped-for new deal with creditors, Venizelos did not say he expected it to be completed by the end of this year, when the European arm of Greece’s international bailout ends. He referred instead to looming presidential elections at the end of February, which constitute the government’s key barrier as, if it fails to garner the required 180-seat supermajority for its presidential candidate, snap general elections will be called. “The Greek people will have the complete agreement with the creditors...as soon as possible and certainly before the procedure of electing a new president begins,” Venizelos said.
The Greek people are faced with a choice, the PASOK leader said: “Either we will choose, as a people and as a nation, a solution for which we have struggled, with sacrifices... or we will choose other solutions, which are vague, shaky and high-risk.”